How to Prepare for an Alaskan RV Adventure

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Finding Alaska RV campgrounds is just the tip of the iceberg

Imagine yourself on an RV vacation in Alaska: Majestic whales gliding through massive glaciers; grizzly bears lumbering through vast wilderness, and bald eagles soaring above towering spruce trees. Envision the bright, blue sky as you cook up freshly caught fish at your Alaska RV campground. These are the images of the Last Frontier.

An Alaska RV trip can be the dream vacation of a lifetime if you prepare for it. Unprepared, and the images can change dramatically: You sitting alone for hours on the side of the road waiting for a tire change; or driving aimlessly with a fuel tank on empty and no gas station in sight; or a long trip with your eyes glued to the road and very little time actually enjoying any outdoor activities. Not quite the trip you imagined.

So how do you prepare to visit this vast state with its infinite wilderness and lack of drivable roads so you can truly enjoy everything Alaska offers?

1. Decide whether to go it alone or take an escorted trip. There are pros and cons to both. Tours like the Good Sam Alaska Caraventure offer a flexible itinerary and the security of traveling with a group. If you want safety in numbers but don’t want to travel with a professional tour operator, put together your own group of friends to travel with.

2. Stock up on reading material. There are some good Alaskan travel books available. Veteran RV travel experts Joe and Vicki Kieva have an “RVing Alaska” DVD that’s also worth checking out. Remember, you can’t rely on WiFi, so make sure you have the most updated campground directory with you.

3. Determine your itinerary. If you’re not going with a tour group, map out your route ahead of time. Things you must do in Alaska: Denali National Park and Mount McKinley; Glacier Tour; Seward; Native Heritage Center; Anchorage. If you opt for kayaking or rafting, it’s wise to hire a professional guide. There are also tours for wildlife viewing as well as dog sled tours and helicopter tours.

4. Reserve your spot at an Alaska RV campground. If you decide you want to be spontaneous and free of a schedule, at the very least find a campground and reserve your spot near Denali since campgrounds in the area are scarce. Research and find which campground is best for you. One that’s closest to the National Park? One that has more amenities? Wider sites? Keep in mind, private vehicles are not allowed within a certain point into Denali National Park. You’ll have to take a bus.

5. Pack for a mechanical breakdown. The Alaskan Highway is rough, and fuel stations and repair shops are few and far between. A breakdown can mean lost hours-even days waiting for a part. So bring the basics: spare tires, fan belts, hoses, fuses, duct tape, flares, tow chain, extra oil, and a first-aid kit.

6. Prepare for the elements. Pack to wear layers of clothes along with waterproof clothes. Remember, when traveling in the summer, the long daylight hours may make sleeping difficult. Bring along a sleep mask. You might want to outfit your RV windows with dark, heavy, material, like burlap drapes since the typical curtains will probably let in too much light during rest periods.

7. Prepare to be amazed. Have your binoculars ready for wildlife viewing, especially in the early morning and evening. Make sure your camera is handy and always charged and ready to capture the postcard scenes at almost every turn.

Pack some patience. Things may not always go as planned. If not, relax and enjoy your Alaska adventure!

For the latest road and weather conditions, call the Alaska Department of Transportation at

(800) 478-7675.

For information on campgrounds in Alaska, visit